The recent release of the Apple iPhone 7 was met with excitement in the tech community, but several problems have arisen with the new smartphone.

One of the issues relates to the new home “button” introduced by the company. The button is not physical like those on previous models, but is touch sensitive. Some people see this as a move towards doing away with the home button altogether in future iPhones, however the new solid-state button doesn’t work without skin contact, writes Samuel Gibbs for The Guardian.

iPhone 7
Image Credit: Apple Inc.

Home button requires direct skin contact

This means that the phone is not accessible if it is inside a sports armband, a waterproof case or if you are wearing touchscreen-compatible gloves. This is because the new iOS 10 operating system doesn’t allow users to move past the lockscreen without using the home button. This applies even if you are trying to enter your pin code to access the device.

During a test by The Guardian, the iPhone 7 was used with capacitive gloves and a transparent case that covers the screen. Testers found that they could not activate the home button on either the iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus using either gloves or a case. However they were able to control the touchscreen.

To get around the problem you can use your nose, chin, knee, elbow or other area of exposed skin to activate the home button. This will bring up the passcode screen. However if you have your iPhone 7 inside a sports armband you will need to remove it in order to activate the device.

Some users will find iPhone 7 functionality is affected

The home button is also very important in iOS 10 in order to let you return to the home screen. Without a functioning home button, you can use the 3D touch press to drag from the left-hand of the screen and open recently used apps. This will let you select the home screen, and works well with touchscreen gloves. However it is difficult to do so with a transparent case that covers the screen.

Other iPhone 7 users have said that touchscreen gloves can activate the home button, but most do not work. While the solid state home button helps to make the iPhone 7 more waterproof, it appears that the design could lead to frustration for some users.

Whether or not this problem will affect you depends on if you use a sports armband, gloves or a waterproof case. However Apple has come in for criticism due to other changes that the company made to the iPhone 7.

Removal of headphone jack sparks controversy

First off is the lack of headphone jack, which was one of the most persistent rumors about the smartphone. Even before launch fans had spoken of their desire for the audio jack to stay, and the move has been criticized since Apple released the iPhone 7 without one.

Again the removal of the jack is more annoying for those who use it than those who don’t. However a huge portion of iPhone owners use the port to listen to music or other things.

Since the release of the iPhone 7 they now have to carry an adapter for the Lightning port, or use a pair of Apple’s wireless headphones. Many people have complained about the inconvenience of wireless earbuds and the fact that you can’t charge your phone at the same time as listening to music. Still more people have been moaning about forgetting to take their adapter with them.

Apple reportedly has big plans for iPhone 8

While the controversy may die down as people get used to the new reality, the move has proven unpopular so far. Of course Apple believes that it has been brave in getting rid of the headphone jack, and the company may have one eye on the future.

Speculation is already rife about what the company will do with the 2017 headphone, widely thought to be called the iPhone 8. Rumor has it that the company is going to get rid of the home button altogether in order to introduce an edge-to-edge display, and the phone could be even thinner.

The main benefit of getting rid of the headphone jack is to make the device thinner. At the same time it is rumored that the switch to OLED displays on the iPhone 8 will also allow for thinner handsets. This is because OLED doesn’t need the backlit layer required by traditional LCD screens.

Is Apple getting people ready for some major changes with the iPhone 8? If so, has it done the right thing in doing so now? Some commentators argue that wireless audio technology is just not good enough to deliver high-quality sound. Should that be the case, Apple could arguably have waited before getting rid of the port.